Virginia father arrested in Turks and Caicos for having ammo in bag to be released on time served

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A judge in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday sentenced Tyler Wenrich, Virginia’s husband and father to a 1-year-old boy, to prison time and to pay a $9,000 fine for unknowingly possessing ammunition in his luggage while visiting the islands.

Wenrich was facing a possible 12-year prison sentence on the island after authorities arrested him in April after he was accused of unknowingly possessing two stray bullets in his luggage on a cruise ship returning from a wedding trip.

“I“This is a backpack… I haven’t used it in a while, but I used to use it to carry supplies in my car to go to the range. So I took it out for the trip, checked it in, went through TSA security, went through port security in Miami, did about a day and a half sail to Grand Turk, and then spent a day here,” Wenrich previously told Fox News Digital. “I spent about eight or nine hours on the island. And then when I got on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, they scanned my bag, they found one bullet, they scanned my bag again, and they found a second bullet.”

Republican Rep. Bob Good of Virginia said in a statement Thursday that he is pleased that Wenrich “will receive the fine and prison time he has served on the charges and will be able to return home later this week and reunite with his family, friends and the community he serves.”

Pennsylvania father detained in Turks and Caicos for having ammunition in his luggage, pays fine and returns home

Both Tyler Wenrich and Ryan Watson, pictured, are scheduled to appear in court in the Turks and Caicos Islands on June 7. (Michael Wenrich)

“This is the outcome we sought last week when my fellow lawmakers and I traveled to the Turks and Caicos Islands,” Good said. “We met with government officials to advocate for the release of all American detainees facing sentences of up to 12 years in prison for accidental, non-threatening crimes, which in Tyler’s case were caused by two bullets lodged in the liner of his backpack. I thank all who worked and prayed for Tyler.”

Five Americans have been arrested since February for possessing ammunition on the island under a recent ordinance that imposes a minimum 12-year prison sentence for both island residents and tourists.

Americans arrested in Turks and Caicos sleep and pray together while awaiting sentencing: ‘Big family’

One of the Americans, Brian Haegerich, received a 52-week suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a $6,700 fine on May 24. He returned to his Pennsylvania home later that evening with his wife and two young children.

Tyler Wenrich's mugshot

No bullets were found during the shooting, after suspect Tyler Wenrich flew from Virginia to Florida, where he boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and attended a “wedding reception.” (TCI Police)

Wenrich, 31, and Hagerich, 39, and other Americans arrested on the island on suspicion of possessing ammunition, will need to prove they were arrested under extraordinary circumstances to receive lighter penalties.

Wenrich was originally arrested on April 20 after a wedding reception in the Turks and Caicos Islands and pleaded guilty when prosecutors and defense lawyers held oral arguments on Monday, he told Fox News Digital. Wenrich traveled from Virginia to Florida, where he boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that docked in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Cruise ship security found two stray bullets in Wenrich’s bag as he was boarding the ship to return home.

Cruise ship authorities then referred Wenrich to local police, where he said it was then that he “realized things were getting bad.”

Virginia man detained in Turks and Caicos recalls moment he realized ‘things were getting bad’

Silhouettes of Michael Lee Evans (left), Brian Hagerich (second from left), Tyler Wenrich (center), Ryan Watson (second from right), and Sharita Greer (right)

Five Americans have been arrested at the airport in the Turks and Caicos Islands since February for smuggling ammunition: (From left) Michael Lee Evans (not pictured), Brian Hagerich, Tyler Wenrich, Ryan Watson and Shalitta Greer. (Turks and Caicos Islands Police/Dimitrios Kambouris)

Other Americans arrested in Turkey for ammunition possession include Shalitta Gurria of Florida; Oklahoma’s Ryan Watson Suspect Michael Lee Evans, of Texas, was arrested at the island’s airport.

“It’s very different from their case because everybody else has been at the airport,” Wenrich said of his own case, “but it’s very similar in terms of the charges. I was actually able to meet with them in person last week, go to lunch and talk about those sorts of things, but we’re in contact every day.”

American arrested in Turks and Caicos Islands receives 12-year sentence for ‘innocent mistake’: ‘We had no idea’

Royal Caribbean Cruises' Tyler Wenrich

No bullets were found during the shooting, after suspect Tyler Wenrich flew from Virginia to Florida, where he boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and attended a “wedding reception.” (Michael Wenrich)

Wenrich said the support he and his family have received from friends and locals back home, as well as other Americans in Turks and Caicos, has been “phenomenal.”

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro sent a letter to Turks and Caicos Islands Governor Delini Daniel Selvaratnam calling for the release of Watson, Hagerich and Wenrich.

Turks and Caicos court hearing for American arrested with ammunition in bag could set new precedent

Tyler Wenrich with his wife and young son

Tyler Wenrich was facing a minimum of 12 years in prison after two stray bullets were found in his bag while he was returning home from the Turks and Caicos Islands. (Michael Wenrich)

“Like thousands of Americans who visit our beautiful territory each year, these individuals recently visited the country for leisure,” the governors said in a joint letter shared with Fox News Digital. “They all maintain they had no intention of bringing ammunition into the Turks and Caicos Islands, and any ammunition left in their luggage without their knowledge is the result of lawful conduct in the United States. We understand that none of them were in possession of firearms.”

Several lawmakers have spoken publicly about the issue of Americans being held in the Turks and Caicos Islands for possessing ammunition, and a congressional delegation met with Turks and Caicos government leaders earlier this month to discuss the possible release of Americans being held under the ammunition code, but without success.

Lawmakers discuss fate of Turks and Caicos Islands arrestees

A bipartisan delegation from the U.S. Congress visited TCI officials on Monday to discuss the arrests of five Americans over ammunition possession laws. (TCI Governor’s Office)

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“The U.S. delegation raised concerns about the cases of five U.S. citizens currently on trial, concerns about their health status, and clarification of the legal process,” the TCI Governor’s Office said in a statement on May 13. “In order to preserve the integrity of the legal process, the Governor confirmed that it would not be appropriate to accommodate the delegation’s request to meet with the Chief Justice.”

The governor and premier also said they “cannot intervene or comment on ongoing litigation in the courts,” the statement continued. “They explained that the Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and ammunition, and that severe penalties are in place to protect all people living and visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands.”